Before heading into the meat of their respective schedules, the Augusta Christian Lions and Augusta Prep Cavaliers baseball teams got to know each other.
Playing twice in four days to open their seasons, the Lions beat the Cavaliers for the second time on Tuesday, 6-1.
Unlike the first contest in which the Lions swamped the Cavaliers 15-0, the Lions (2-0) pushed three runs across in the bottom of the fifth inning to break open a close 3-1 game. After the Cavaliers (0-2) batted in the top of the sixth, the game was called on account of darkness.
“It was tough. Our guys came in kind of thinking that they would win 15-0 again,” said first-year Lions’ coach Matt Klimas. “We weren’t focused to start the game. As the game progressed they realized they can’t just turn on the light switch and score 15 and they got more focused as the game went on. Pitching kept us in the game, which is always a plus.”
Cavaliers’ coach Tim Shafer liked how his shorthanded team looked from the first game of the year to the second.
“We made a lot of improvements today but we have a long way to go and I think we’re going to get there,” said Shafer.
Shafer is waiting on four players to finish their run with the Cavaliers’ basketball team in the Georgia Independent School Association Class AAA state tournament, including No. 1 pitcher Michael Downing and outfielder/closer Nate Pylant.
Lions’ starter Tripp Finley cruised through the first four innings, allowing an unearned run on two hits with a walk while striking out four. Noah Fouche came on in relief in the fifth inning with the Lions up 3-1. He walked two with one out but retired the next two batters on a strikeout and liner back to the mound to end the threat before retiring the side in order to end the game in the sixth.
“Tripp is more of a guy who’s going to keep people off balance with his breaking ball and fill it up with his fastball and Fouche is more of a power guy and bigger body out there who can get the ball on you in a hurry,” Klimas said.
Cavaliers’ junior right hander Sam Cleary kept the Lions off balance with his overhand curveball but got himself in trouble by walking four and hitting four. He would go five innings, allowing the six runs (three earned) on five hits with a strikeout.
“He (Cleary) had about five or six innings of pitching last year,” said Shafer. “He has a real good, strong natural motion and we’re trying to develop him into a pitcher, so his performance today was excellent for his lack of experience.”
The Lions took advantage of Cleary’s wildness, pushing across their first three runs on sacrifice flys from Caleb Teske and Michael Weiksner and a Cason Greene fielder’s choice, leading 3-0 after three innings.